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The article that started it all
Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink...
Customs ignored MP's request


By Hamidah Atan and Farrah Naz Karim (From New Straits Times Online of May 04, 2006)

PUTRAJAYA: A Member of Parliament allegedly asked the Customs and Excise Department to "close one eye" in a case involving the import of sawn timber.
It is learnt that the department has submitted a detailed report on the MPís alleged interference into the seizure of sawn timber brought in from Indonesia at Sungai Linggi recently.
The MP is said to have gone to the Malacca Customs Office on April 14 to "settle" the matter. He had allegedly requested that the department "close one eye" in handling the case.
However, the Customs officials did not heed his request and went ahead to compound the agent who brought in the timber. The consignment of timber was also seized.
The action was taken because the agent had brought in sawn timber with a cross-section more than 60 inches. The Malaysian Timber Industrial Board only allows the import of sawn timber with a cross-section of less than 60 inches.
The agent of the Malacca-based company is said to have committed at least 14 offences this year alone. He is said to be trading in timber and sugar.
The offences were committed at Sungai Linggi and Sungai Rambai, the Stateís only barter trade points.
A source said the MP met the state Customs director and the state preventive unit head sometime in the middle of last month, and asked them to show "leniency" and "close one eye".
However, both replied that to do so would tarnish the integrity of the department and that they had to uphold the law.
The source said a report detailing the sequence of events and what transpired during the meeting between the MP and the Customs officers was sent last month to the Ministry of Finance.
Meanwhile, Malacca Customs director Datuk Hashim Pardi, when contacted, confirmed the seizure of the sawn timber.
However, he refused to comment when asked if any MP had seen him to settle the case.

How far can an MP go?
PM supports code of ethics for MPs


By Deborah Loh (From New Straits Times Online of May 08, 2006)

SEPANG: A code of ethics for Members of Parliament ó which, among other things, would spell out how far they can go in helping their constituents ó is coming closer to being a reality.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, on his return from abroad yesterday, threw his weight behind the proposal to form a committee to draw up the guidelines, which would be applicable to all MPs.
He said while it would be beneficial to have ethical guidelines for MPs when dealing with issues of government, such restrictions might also cause problems in serving their constituents.
"There is good in having such a committee to frame some rules for the MPs, and they should apply to all MPs, not just from the Barisan Nasional but also the Opposition.
"We will have to consider the finer points of the proposal to see the benefits and problems that could arise from such rules. But for a start, it looks like it will bring about some good," Abdullah told reporters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday on arrival from Austin, Texas, where he had attended the World Congress on Information Technology.
The committee to formulate ethical guidelines for MPs was suggested by Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Friday.
Shahrir made the proposal after he resigned as Backbenchersí Club president for not getting the support of fellow BN MPs for an Opposition motion in Parliament.
The motion involved a New Straits Times report of an MP interfering with the Malacca Customs office by asking for "leniency" for one of his constituents.
Asked if party rules would be amended to allow MPs to vote by conscience and principle rather than party lines, Abdullah said it was a party decision not to allow any MP to support an Opposition motion.
"We intend to maintain this decision. It is the principle of showing support for the party. A party decision is also a principle and must be followed," he said.
Shahrir is to explain his resignation at the Umno supreme council meeting today. Abdullah said although Shahrir had resigned, he would allow him to raise his concerns at the meeting.
"I wonít prevent him from giving an explanation. Even though what happened is related to Parliament, it also has to do with the party principle of not supporting an Opposition motion. Maybe he wants to raise this."
Abdullah added that Najib, as the BN whip, had made the right decision in accepting Shahrirís resignation.
"It was in line with the partyís rules," he said.
Asked about Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said Yusof, who owned up to being the MP who interfered with the Malacca Customs office, Abdullah said Saidís actions would be discussed within Umno.